The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Roman Catholic Church was “200 years out of date” in his final interview before his death, published Saturday.
Cardinal Martini, once favored by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II and a prominent voice in the church until his death at 85 on Friday, gave his view of the church as a pompous and bureaucratic institution failing to move with the times.
“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” Cardinal Martini said in the interview published in Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops,” he said in the interview. “The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.”
In the last decade the church has been accused of failing to fully address a series of child abuse scandals which have undermined its status as a moral arbiter, though it has paid many millions in compensation settlements worldwide.
Cardinal Martini, famous for comments that the use of condoms could be acceptable in some cases, told interviewers the church should open up to new kinds of families or risk losing its flock.
“A woman is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion to look after her and her children.” he said. “A second love succeeds. If this family is discriminated against, not just the mother will be cut off, but also her children.”
In this way “the church loses the future generation,” the cardinal said in the interview, made two weeks before he died. The Vatican opposes divorce and forbids contraception in favor of fidelity within marriage and abstinence without.
A liberal voice in the church, Cardinal Martini’s chances of becoming pope were damaged when he revealed he was suffering from a rare form of Parkinson’s disease and he retired in 2002.
Pope John Paul II was instead succeeded in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI, a hero of Catholic conservatives, known for his stern stand on theological issues.
The cardinal’s final message to Pope Benedict was to begin a shake-up of the Catholic Church without delay.
“The church is 200 years out of date,” he said. “Why don’t we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?”
Thousands paid their respects at his coffin in Milan Cathedral on Saturday.
qui l’articolo di Le Monde dello stesso tenore, pubblicato il 2 settembre 2012